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Three Mooseheads, Bedford's Diliberatore invited to Canadian world junior tryouts

Jared McIsaac of Truro will fulfill a dream when he laces up his skates for Team Canada at the world junior hockey championship next week in Vancouver.
Halifax Mooseheads defenceman Jared McIsaac, right, was invited to the Canadian world junior team tryout camp on Monday. - Jason Malloy

There will be a noticeable Halifax Mooseheads presence at next week's Canadian world junior team tryouts.

Hockey Canada announced the invitation list on Monday and forwards Bo Groulx and Raphael Lavoie and defenceman Jared McIsaac all got the call. Bedford's Peter Diliberatore, who plays defence for Quinnipiac University in the NCAA and is a sixth-round pick of the Vegas Golden Knights, also received an invitation. The 31-player camp is Dec. 9-12 in Oakville, Ont.

"I think with Peter what really caught our eye was the way he's able to move the puck," said Team Canada head scout Brad McEwen. "Looking at our group in terms of how the back end could potentially shape up, he retrieves pucks, he skates well, he makes a good first pass and does some other things we really value.

"Coming to the Summer Showcase we thought he did a real good job and has continued on at Quinnipiac and played well. I think he's a real viable option as we go forward."

McIsaac played for Canada at last year's tournament in Vancouver and Victoria. He had one assist in four games but has only played one game so far this season because of off-season shoulder surgery. He returned to the Mooseheads lineup at home on Saturday against the Blainville-Boisbriand and then took Sunday's game off to rest.

"The goal was to get back for (that) game," McIsaac said. "That was the date we had in mind after surgery. I was thankful to be back this early."

Lavoie (41 points in 28 games) and Groulx (37 points in 21 games) are Halifax's top two scorers. Groulx is also the Mooseheads' captain and filled the same role with Team QMJHL in the CIBC Canada-Russia in November. He's also one of the best face-off men in the Quebec league with a 58 per cent success rate and Lavoie is first in the Q with 180 shots.

The two players have also been longtime linemates with the Mooseheads, which might work in their favour in the short tryout as well as in the tournament format.

"I think when (guys) are familiar with each other it helps them out," said Mark Hunter, a member of the Hockey Canada Program of Excellence management group. "That can help them out in selection camp also so there is something there. But in the end it's going to be what they do at selection camp. The camp's wide open so it's something that we'll watch and I'm sure they'll get some time together and we'll see how they do."
 

Mooseheads' top scorer Raphael Lavoie is among those invited to World Junior tryouts. - Vincent Ethier/QMJHL
Mooseheads' top scorer Raphael Lavoie is among those invited to World Junior tryouts. - Vincent Ethier/QMJHL

Other QMJHL players who received invitations were Alexis Lafreniere (Rimouski Oceanic), Olivier Rodrigue (Moncton Wildcats), Jakob Pelletier (Moncton Wildcats) and Dawson Mercer (Drummondville Voltigeurs). New Glasgow's Kyle Sutton will also be with Team Canada as an athletic therapist. He works for the Shawinigan Cataractes.

"It was an honour to represent the Q and also Canada in those games against Russia," said Mercer, who had a strong series for the QMJHL. "At first it was a special feeling just to get to play in those games but then I also felt like I wanted to make the most of that opportunity. I think I performed well and gave myself a shot. I felt like I transferred my game over well from playing in our league to the games against Russia. I was pleased with my two games there."

This year's tournament is in the Czech Republic, Dec. 26-Jan. 5.

"Everybody's got a chance to make the roster," Hunter said. "We invited 16 (forward), 10 (defencemen) and four (goalies) so it's wide open.

"It's going to be a tense four or five days for all players and it's going to be lots of evaluation by the group making some tough decisions."

The Mooseheads also announced forward Marcel Barinka has joined the Czech Republic team for next week's World Junior A Challenge. The 18-year-old left Monday for the tournament, which is in Dawson Creek, B.C., Dec. 7-15.

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